Effects of electroacupuncture on uterine morphology and expression of oestrogen receptors in ovariectomised rats

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Abstract

Aim

To observe the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on uterine morphology and expression of oestrogen receptor (ER) α and β in ovariectomised (OVX) rats.

Methods

Thirty female Sprague-Dawley rats with regular 4-day oestrus cycles were divided into a sham operation group (Control, n=10) and two OVX groups that remained untreated (OVX group, n=10) or received EA treatment (OVX+EA group, n=10). In the latter group, EA was applied at CV4, CV3, SP6 and bilateral Zigong (30 min per day) for 3 days. The effects of EA on uterine morphology were observed by H&E staining. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blotting were used to measure ERα and ERβ mRNA and protein expression, respectively.

Results

Relative to the (untreated) OVX group, EA treatment significantly increased the uterine wet weight to body weight (UWW/BW) ratio (0.47±0.04 vs 0.31±0.03 g/kg, p=0.04), and myometrial thickness (109.39±10.71 vs 60.81±8.1 μm, p=0.016) of OVX rats. Similarly, the total number of endometrial glands per cross section and endometrial thickness in the OVX +EA group was significantly increased compared to the (untreated) OVX group. EA treatment also increased protein (but not mRNA) expression of both ERα and ERβ in the uteri of OVX rats.

Conclusions

This study has demonstrated that EA treatment decreases uterine atrophy in OVX rats. This unique effect of EA on the uterus may be due to upregulation of serum levels of E2 and differential regulation of sex steroid receptors ERα and ERβ.

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